Dr. Aishah Solution Sdn Bhd (DAS), has successfully entered the Japanese market for its healthy halal snacks called DASTO to the Japanese consumers. The Dr. Aishah brand snacks consist of granola and Asian superfoods.
These products will not only be marketed to consumers in key Japanese cities but will also cater to the demands rising from the upcoming Tokyo Olympic 2020. Dr. Aishah brand products target Japanese consumers who are conscious of their overall health well-being.
We spoke with the founder and CEO of Dr. Aishah Solution Sdn Bhd, Dr. Aishah Tul Radziah Lebai Hussin.
Turning A Life Experience Into A Business
Dr. Aishah is a private medical doctor with over 40 years of experience. She and her husband, Dr. Fisol Ahmad, run two private clinics in Kedah, Malaysia. Even now, they are both still practicing doctors, and at the same time are entrepreneurs.
Dr. Aishah came up with the idea of starting a healthy food business after putting on weight due to a hectic and stressful lifestyle. The weight gain, which was in the obese category, was due to choosing foods that were unhealthy, and high in calories. She then managed to lose weight by choosing the right healthy foods and exercise.
“Losing weight is easy. It’s just a matter of choosing the right, healthy foods combined with a healthy lifestyle”, said Dr. Aishah.
The idea to produce and market halal healthy foods, such as granola and local produce foods, such as mangosteen and sweet potato. These are then turned into energy bars and granola cereals.
The need for healthy foods is just right for the Malaysian market, given that Malaysia is Asia’s fattest country, with over 50% of its population are either overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to various life-threatening conditions, from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, gall stones, and may even cause cancer, such as breast, colon and uterine cancer.
Support From the Malaysian Ministry
DAS has the support of Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), a national trade promotion agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).
“DAS has been part of Matrade’s development program since 2014 when
Matrade groomed them to build their export readiness”, according to Mr. Niqman Rafaee Mohd Sahar, Trade Commissioner of Matrade in Tokyo.
DAS is also part of the Women Exporters Development Programme (WEDP) under Matrade, as its founder and CEO is a woman.
“After they’ve graduated from the WEDP, they have taken part in various Export Promotion activities by Matrade.”
“Now, we can see the results of these engagements and we are proud of DAS’ determination in creating more values for their brand as well as following up with the targeted buyers Matrade has introduced to them,” Mr. Niqman Rafee elaborated further.
Malaysian companies offering halal foods to international markets are also encouraged to contact the Matrade office in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, 2020 at tokyo [at] matrade.gov.my or reach out to Matrade through their social media.
Not Waiting For Opportunities
Dr. Aishah and her company, DAS, has participated in many food promotions at various international trade fairs in East Asia and in the Middle East.
In 2015, DAS won the Gulf Food Awards in Dubai, under the category of Best New Halal Food Product. In 2016, DAS was also the nominee for the SIAL Innovation. SIAL is the world’s leading food fair, which takes place once a year in Paris.
Her idea to enter into the Japanese market came about after finding out the Olympics will be held in Tokyo in 2020. Japan is expecting around 40 million visitors during the Olympics, of which approximately eight million will be Muslim tourists.
She then contacted the Malaysian international trade office in Japan to request them to introduce her products to potential buyers. The MATRADE office in Japan then connected her with a Japanese buyer who understands the healthy lifestyle and health and nutritious food segment and suggested that she should approach the premier and luxury hotels.
“We started talking to Prince Hotel Karuizawa in Nagano, one of Japan’s prestigious hotels, to serve their meals using our Granola. We have done a series of food presentation and food tasting to help them visualize how DASTO can complement their menu such as Cauliflower Mousse, French Style Fish Fillet, Cheese Risotto and Beef Curry.,” said Dr. Aishah.
It’s Never Too Late To Start
Dr. Aishah’s age is now 68, and she started her company when she was in her 60’s. This year, she won two awards, the ASEAN Business Award 2019 Women Entrepreneur and New Products Health Wellness Catagory of Gulfood 2019.
If anything, Dr. Aishah is a testament that there’s no limit to one’s potential, and age is just a number.